for Discussion: What were the major
challenges immigrants faced living
and working in America in the late
Reading: Hymowitz, pp. 192-217; Hoffman, pp. 68-72,
Ethnic Studies are Un-American
This is America!, I am an American
American Immigration Policy
Immigrants in 19th Century
1. What is an American?
2. Images of immigrants in
3. Immigrants' lives in Industrializing
4. Immigrant Mothers and their daughters
5. What are the major concerns Anglo-Americans
have about massive immigration into the United
States in the late 1800s?
6. What were the major causes of immigrant
poverty, hardship, and cultural isolation in immigrant ghettoes?
7. Whose argument, Ross's or Andrew's
think is more persuasive?
8. Does American society Americanize
immigrants while at the same time being transformed by these
1. What were the major differences between
and their children in America in the 1800s?
2. What were the conditions immigrant families
during their first years in America?
3. What kind of work did immigrant women do
teeming industrial cities they settled in?
4. What were the major factors forcing immigrants
settle in ethnic ghettoes in these industrial cities?
5. What were the major conflicts between immigrant
mothers and their daughters in America?
6. How did becoming Americanized affect young
immigrant women in America?
7. According to Edward Ross, what are the
"social effects" of massive immigration to the United
8. According to Ross, why is poverty associated
9. Why does Ross believe that immigrants will
threaten social progress and even cause social decline?
10. According to A. Piatt Andrew, what is
of immigrants in American society?
11. Why does Andrew believe that immigrants
can Americanize and become "loyal, worthy American citizens"?
12. According to Andrew, why should Americans
fear the coming of million of immigrants to America in the
13. What do you think are the major fears
and concerns Americans have toward immigrants?
population grew from 40
million in 1870 to 92 million in 1910. Much
of this increased population came from
European immigrants. Thirty million
immigrants came from Europe between
1860 and 1910. Between 1840 and 1890,
4 million Germans and 3 million Irish
migrated to the United States. From
1880 to 1920, 4 million Italians, 4 million
Austro-Hungarians, and 3 million
Russians came to the United States.
Most of these immigrants settled in the
growing industrial cities and made up
a large proportion of America's industrial
workers. As a result of this explosion of
immigration and the industrialization,
between 1860 and 1920, the rural
population of America doubled and the
urban population grew by ten times.
Since the American
has been constant tension between
two competing definitions of America:
America as a nation of immigrants
America as one united people,
descended from the same
Diversity and homogeneity are two rival,
mythologies. The idea of the Melting Pot helps
resolve this contradiction between diversity and unity.
Michel Crevecoeur in his 1782 essay, "What is an
American," was probably the first to use the idea
of the Melting Pot:
"What then is the American,
this new man? He is either a European or the descendent of a European,
hence that strange mixture of blood, which you will find in on other
country....He is an American, who leaving behind him all his ancient
prejudices and manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life
he has embraced....Here individuals of all nations are melted
into a new race of men...."
But many Americans at the time Crevecoeur
wrote did not want to accept America as a nation of immigrants.
John Jay wrote in The Federalist Papers (1787) that:
"Americans are one united
people--a people descended from the same ancestors, speaking the
same language, professing the same religion,..., and very similar
in their manners and customs."
"So in the
very earliest days of the
English settlement,immigration began to be restricted, and Quakers
Baptists, Episcopalians and Catholics, were banished and proscribed
the Commonwealth on the grounds that American standards were apt
impaired by their admission. From that day
to this the older immigrants and their descendants have tried to
keep this country for those already here and their kindred
folk. They have looked upon themselves as a kind of aristocracy,
their supposed superiority being proportioned to the length of time
that they and their ancestors
have lived upon this continent, and each successive generation
of immigrants newly arrived has tended
with curious repetition to adopt the
same viewpoint, to believe that the
succeeding immigrants were
inferior to the former in religion, habits, education, or what not,
and ought to be kept out."
Piatt Andrew (1914)
In the 1800s,
White, Anglo-Saxon Protestant American elites tried to create
a white, Anglo-Saxon Protestant
(WASP) identity as the American identity. As a result, with
wave of immigration to America between 1880 and 1920 of immigrants
from Eastern and Southern Europe, many Americans feared that
new immigrants would never become Americans. One of the larger
reasons for this fear is that the majority of
these immigrants were Catholics or Jews, religions which many
Americans saw as incompatible with
American Protestant identity.
Between 1880 and 1920, Americans feared
these new immigrants:
Strange customs and insistence
on maintaining their cultures in crowded urban ghetto communities,
such as the Polish ghetto, the Italian ghetto, the Russian ghetto,
and the Jewish
The massive influx of Catholics
and Jews in crowded urban immigrant enclaves.
That these immigrants were responsible
social problems in the exploding, industrial cities, problems
such as crime, poverty, insanity, and immorality.
Blamed immigrants for labor unrest
That these unassimilated immigrants
were a threat to American culture and society. Feared
that their ethnic enclaves threatened to undermine assimilation
and the process of Americanization.
As a result of these growing American
fears about immigration, the Federal Government passed the 1924
Immigration Act, which greatly limited immigration from Europe,
Asia, and Africa. Supporters of Immigration Restriction argued that
continued massive immigration threatened the American Melting Pot
and the American balance between unity and diversity. So after 1924,
the definition of an American swung away from "a nation of
immigrants" to America as a "unified people of Anglo-Saxon
stock." Only after the Federal Government passed the 1965
Immigration Act, which once again opened America's doors to
immigration from throughout the world, did Americans begin to reconsider
their definition of an American as a "unified, Anglo-Saxon,
Protestant race." From 1965 to the present, Americans are arguing
about whether the Melting Pot still works. Some Americans fear that
the new wave of immigrants that flocked to America since 1965 were
not assimilating, or melting in, and becoming Americans. But this
massive new immigration, over 30 million immigrants since 1965,
has led many Americans to begin to question their definition of
what is an American.